Vernon Wayne Wray


Vernon age 9

Vernon age 9

Vernon Wayne Wray passed away Saturday, September 25, at his home in Arlington at the age of 85. He was born July 27, 1925 in Olympia WA to Claude and Della Triplett Wray. He is preceded in death by his parents and two older brothers.

Vernon 1988

Vernon worked in construction most of his life, including working on many bridges for the Interstate system across the mid-western states. He worked at the NEPA Lumber Co. Snohomish for 15 years until his recent retirement. He was also known as the Ice Man of Arlington, famous for his mid-winter swimming in the Stillaguamish River. As a young man Vernon always enjoyed a challenge and was undaunted by danger or public opinion. He swam across Puget Sound because someone said it couldn’t be done; leaving from Richmond Beach and landing in Kingston. The family lived near Chase Lake, known as the “bottomless lake”, and the children were warned to stay away. So, of course, that’s where young Vernon liked to swim. Another adventure was to cross the bridge at Deception Pass – from the under side! Hanging onto the girders he made his way across the 976-foot span; dangling 180 feet above the water! Then, at age 74, he took up parachuting.

1994

Vernon was also very active in the Bryant Community Church. He loved his Lord and spread that love to all who knew him; mentoring young people, encouraging everyone, helping wherever he could. Most of the children in the church call him “Grandpa”.

A special young lady in his life lives in Guatemala. Through Caring Partners in Ohio, he has supported Ingrid since she was in the third grade. She is now in her first year of college and adores her Grandpa Vernon who has made such a difference in her life. Many letters kept him informed of her activities, and she often asked his advice and counsel. He wrote long letters back to her. He had planned to continue with her support until she finished college.

2010

He never married and lived alone until the end. He is survived by his sisters: Jean Bates of Allyn; Bonnie Mott of Edmonds; and Marlene Arnót of Shoreline; and three generations of nieces and nephews. He will be sorely missed.

This handwritten note was found in Vernon’s effects: I don’t know what God’s plans for me may be, but I do pray continually that He will keep me as a tool He can use to enrich the spiritual well-being of others’ lives; and by His love and wisdom that every day — even if today is my very last day– that He would use me in His offering to others that someone along the way would call to Jesus for salvation, even as I did.

A memorial service will be held at the Bryant Community Church; Sunday Oct. 17, at 3:00 pm with Pastor Chuck Barnett officiating. (Church address: 26830 53rd Ave NE; Arlington 98223 — corner of Hwy 9 and Stanwood-Bryant Road. 360-435-8311)

Any donations for the continued support of Vernon’s girl, Ingrid, can be mailed to: Caring Partners International Inc; 601 Shotwell Dr.; Franklin OH 45005.

Please feel free to add a comment, or to share an anecdote from Vernon’s life.

12 Responses to “Vernon Wayne Wray”

  • Marvin Wray says:

    Uncle Vernon was a one of a kind to say the least. As a boy he was my absolute hero because of his stunts and sense of humor, but also because of his unconditional love, acceptance, and encouragement to me through the years of growing up. The stories about this loving man and numerous, legendary, and probably exaggerated! One thing is for certain…he will be missed, loved, and remembered with smiles. I have so many stories to tell about him. Some of them are true! Goodbye Unc. Love you and I’ll see you in the morning!

  • Marvin Wray says:

    Uncle Vernon was a one of a kind to say the least. As a boy he was my absolute hero because of his stunts and sense of humor, but also because of his unconditional love, acceptance, and encouragement to me through the years of growing up. The stories about this loving man are numerous, legendary, and probably exaggerated! One thing is for certain…he will be missed, loved, and remembered with smiles. I have so many stories to tell about him. Some of them are true! Goodbye Unc. Love you and I’ll see you in the morning!

  • Mick (& Frances) says:

    We will miss you here Uncle Vernon! Always remember interesting conversations with you and your great sense of humor and adventure. And your love for the Lord and His power in your life.
    We look forward to seeing you again!

  • Robert Mott says:

    Ditto to what Marv wrote. Uncle Vernon was known as the “Ice Man” of Arlington. As a young fellow (in his 70’s) he would swim in the Stillaguamish River every day of the year. On one especially cold winter day KOMO News ran a story on Vernon and broadcast a video as he broke through the ice and slipped into the river for a refreshing swim. All of us nephews and neices loved him for his fun-loving, adventurous spirit. He never really seemed old – he will forever be young at heart.

  • Judi Barber says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Vernon in person only one time(of course we knew of each other through Jean and Claudia). He took Jean and me out to a very good Chinese buffett. After saying that he didn’t eat much, he went and FILLED his plate. We were there over two hours becaus he did not want anything to go to waste. Needless to say the conversation was interesting and stimulating. I know you are in good hands Vernon. You probably have found a cold river in which to refresh yourself. Save us all a place and some warm towels would be nice.

  • phyllis king says:

    One of the things that Vernon loved was “home cooking”. Whenever he came to our house for dinner, he would enjoy the food so much. He loved home made anything, especially deserts. I remember his melodious voice, it was so deep. And family was of utmost importance to him. He was a special uncle and will be missed so much.

  • Diana McAlister says:

    Vernon loved garlic and ginger. At his insistance, I treated his strained back by boiling ginger root and placing it directly on his spine while he lay upside down on my carpeted stairs. Nothing could sway him to let me take him to a Dr or a Chiropractic. Nothing could sway him… about much of anything he decided.

    My first impression of the man thronged with children from the beach was to warn mine away. He won me, and them, with his love. I drew a line at the twinkies from the cat van, though.

    He loved me. He loved my diaghter(s). And he loved Jesus. He was fearless about sharing Jesus. He knew his Bible. He served his Lord and his fellow man.

  • C L Brooks says:

    Great to know of this wonderful man and his love for
    Christ. Thanks so much for the info. I am
    Clara McCalisters Oldest Grandson Clair L.
    What a Mighty God we serve.

  • Sandra Heckart Johnson says:

    I always thought of Uncle Vernon as my uncle even though he is my great-uncle. I didn’t get to see him nearly as much as I would have liked, but each time I got to visit with him was precious and memorable. I am so glad my kids, Seth & Savannah, got to see him one more time this summer. We had such a good visit. He had always been an inspiration to me with his zest for adventure and love for the Lord. He will be greatly missed, until we meet again.

  • Heidi Thieman says:

    Vernon is dearly loved by all at Bryant Community Church and we’ll have a grand time when we get up there with him! Thank you Vernon for being an on-fire-for-the-LORD kinda guy! See you then!

  • Linda Pomeroy says:

    I only knew Vernon from the 1/yr New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge at Clarke Beach on Mercer Is. I was amazed to find out he drove from so far away to get so cold! He seemed a bit frail the last couple of years and we wondered what happened to him and why he wasn’t there this year. We are all very sad to hear this news, but sounds like he was a character, full of life more than most and that he had lots of loving people around him and he had such an effect on so many.

  • Alice Smith says:

    I first met Vernon at the 34th annual Polar Bear Swim at Clarke Beach on January 1, 2001. My notes from 2002 record that he was there again: “Vernon, 76, long gray beard and long gray hair, from Arlington. He had gotten off work in Snohomish at 7 a.m. and driven down and napped in his car in the parking lot. He says he can’t come if New Year’s Day is on a Sunday because he has “a more important appointment”—i.e., he can’t make it down here in time after church. He was planning to go down to Olympia, where there’s a polar bear swim at 3 p.m.!” Our local newspaper printed a group photo taken by Linda Pomeroy and quoted my comment, “What a role model!” Yes, he was. And a sweet man. We all miss him. May he swim in warm waters in heaven, and in our memories.

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